The world of mental disorders is complex, and there are many types. One of the most common is anxiety disorders, which include different classes. Among these types of disorders, phobias stand out, which are irrational and persistent fears that can seriously affect the life of the person who suffers them.
Today we will talk about the extreme fear of disorder, known as ataxophobia , and explain its causes, symptoms and treatment.
Fear of disorder: what is it?
Phobias are irrational and persistent fears that lead a person to avoid the feared stimulus in an attempt to reduce the discomfort experienced in their presence. But there are many phobias, because people can develop irrational fears towards any object, animal or situation. A spider, a clown, interacting with other individuals and even to disorder or the disordered elements, whether physical or not, can cause phobias.
Phobias can be classified as complex or simple. Within the latter, specific phobias stand out, which occur when a person has contact with or imagines a specific situation, animal or object, such as the fear of flying, the fear of insects and the fear of disorder we are talking about in this article. Complex phobias are social phobias and agoraphobia.
You may be interested in: “Types of Phobias: Exploring Fear Disorders”
Causes of this phobia
The causes of phobias often go unnoticed, because these disorders often develop through a type of implicit learning , known as classical conditioning. It occurs when the individual experiences a traumatic event (conditioned stimulus) that causes strong emotional reactions (known as unconditioned response).
In cases where an irrational fear develops, the phobic stimulus, which is originally a neutral stimulus, is associated with the unconditioned stimulus, which makes the phobic stimulus a conditioned stimulus that then provokes the initially unconditioned response, which is called the conditioned response (the experience of fear).
While it is true that most phobias develop this way, it may also be that the phobia is caused by another type of learning known as vicarious conditioning. In this case it is not the person who develops this phobia who experiences the traumatic event, but the phobic observes how another person goes through this traumatic situation . In this sense, vicarious conditioning is a type of observational learning. You can find out more in our article “Vocational conditioning: how does this type of learning work?
On the other hand, experts on phobias say that fear is an adaptive emotion, which has been really useful for the survival of the species. But fear occurs because of primitive associations in the primitive brain and not in the neocortex (related to logical thinking). That is why phobias do not respond to logical arguments and the treatment is characterized by exposure techniques, in which the patient has to face the feared stimulus by exposing himself to it.
Symptoms of Ataxophobia
Phobias can exist in many forms; however, these disorders often share the same symptoms, which can be classified into cognitive, behavioral, and physical. The experience of fear, the anguish the person feels, confusion , lack of concentration or catastrophic thoughts are some common cognitive symptoms.
The main behavioral symptom is the attempt to avoid the feared stimulus. As for the physical symptoms, it is possible to highlight: tension in the muscles, headache, lack of air and hyperventilation, nausea, among others.
Treatment and therapy
Phobias are very common disorders, but they have a good prognosis if they are treated properly. Except in extreme cases, the application of drugs should never be the first therapeutic option. In fact, phobias respond very well to psychological therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy, according to scientific studies, is usually sufficient for the patient to be able to cope with the feared stimulus.
There are different cognitive-behavioral techniques that work well for the treatment of phobias . Relaxation techniques and exposure techniques are the most effective. However, one technique that combines both is cognitive desensitization, which is widely used in these cases.
Cognitive desensitization consists of exposing the patient to the feared stimulus in a gradual way, but first he must learn different coping strategies such as relaxation techniques.
However, other therapeutic methods seem to produce great results. Among them are Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy . You can find out more in our articles: